Better Vitamin D Status Could Mean Better Quality of Life for Seniors

To help understand the diet-health association in keeping bones and muscles strong from infancy to old age, Denise Houston, PhD, RD, from the Sticht Center on Aging at Wake Forest University and her collaborators studied the relationship between vitamin D status and physical function in a group of relatively healthy seniors.

This study was part of the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study initially designed to assess the associations among body composition, long-term health conditions, and mobility in older adults. For Houston’s segment of the investigation, she studied 2788 seniors (mean age of 75) for four years. At the beginning of the study, they assessed vitamin D status by analyzing each person’s blood for 25-hydroxyvitamin D. At baseline and then two and four years later, the research team then determined whether circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D was related to the participants’ physical function.

When the results were tabulated, participants with the highest levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D had better physical function. And, although physical function declined over the course of the study, it remained significantly higher among those with the highest vitamin D levels at the beginning of the study compared with those with the lowest vitamin D levels.